Freetown - The desperate dig for survivors is resuming in Sierra Leone's capital, after mudslides and floods claimed the lives of more than 300 people. Their homes in Freetown were engulfed after part of Sugar Loaf mountain collapsed following heavy rain early on Monday morning.
Many of the victims were still asleep in their beds when disaster struck. Vice-President Victor Foh has warned the final death toll may be far higher. Another 3,000 people are estimated to have lost their homes. Ishmeal Charles, a charity worker for the Healey Relief Foundation and Caritas Freetown, told the BBC words could not do justice to the scale of the tragedy. "Of course you will see a huge number of people crying with those who have lost their family members," he said. "It's very difficult to paint what the reality looks like, because it's more scary and very sad and disastrous than anyone can be able to describe." In the worst hit area, the Regent district, where dozens of houses were submerged when the hillside collapsed at about 06:00 GMT, those who survived spoke of the family members they had lost - or still hoped to find alive.
"My wife is dead. My children are all dead. This morning my children and I talked before I left for work. One of them even chose the socks I should put on," a man called Malikie told the BBC. Another woman, called Adama, said she was still searching for her baby.
"We were inside. We heard the mudslide approaching. We were trying to flee. I attempted to grab my baby but the mud was too fast. She was covered, alive. "I have not seen my husband, Alhaji. My baby was just seven weeks old." Mohamed Sinneh, a morgue technician at Freetown's Connaught Hospital, told news agency AFP he had counted more than 300 bodies on Monday - and said more had been taken to private morgues. Red Cross spokesman Patrick Massaquoi told the news agency that 312 people were confirmed dead and warned the toll could rise further.(FA)